I wrote earlier that I had decided to incorporate a number of changes here because I felt that too many personal finance writers were merely cloning each other. One of the areas where I have really struggled is with carnivals. Once the carnivals go up, all the personal finance sites announce the carnival and nobody reads the posts (unless it happened to be the first site where you have seen the carnival post). At the same time, not posting the carnival isn’t really fair to the person hosting because one of the reason to host the carnival is so that new readers can discover your site. Thus I have been struggling to figure out the best way to post carnivals so that it actually brings value to the readers here and to those who submit to them.
In doing the rounds, I think that I’ll use Financial Rounds as an example of what I’ll do. Instead of merely mentioning the carnival (the easy way out which 75% of the sites do) or only mentioning your own submissions to the carnival (which another 20% do), he actually reads through and picks a few of the articles he liked best. I think that is what the carnivals were supposed to be in the first place and I’m pretty ashamed at the way I have been announcing them up to this point. If readers have made the effort to come here to read, the least I can do is give my thoughts of some of the submissions and hopefully steer people to information worth reading (at least in my opinion, which in itself may defeat the entire purpose )
In addition, I’ve noticed that the personal finance writers have, in a way, cocooned themselves in their own tiny world – myself included. That means that you see the same people writing for the exact same carnivals so that there never really is an expansion to introduce new writers because it’s always the exact same writers that submit week after week (except for an odd new writer here and there).
In that sense, I will be attempting to submit my writing to a number of other carnivals that may not necessarily have to do specifically with personal finance. I would like to break out of the cocoon and reach an entirely different segment that may not have thought that personal finance could be worth reading about in the first place (this was one of the impetuses for beginning the Financial Challenge – if people could see they were able to save money, pay down debt and begin investing by following a simple plan on a consistent basis, they would be encouraged to mention it to others that may not have had interest in personal finances).
I think to a large extent, I’ve been asking the wrong questions up to this point. When I would look at my trackbacks and where I had been mentioned, I was asking why some of the other personal finance sites weren’t mentioning posts more often (probably a bit of my competitive spirit coming out) when I should have been asking why more sites that have nothing to do with personal finances weren’t mentioning the site. There are only 2 reasons: 1) they don’t know I exist or 2) my writing isn’t interesting, inspirational or valid to their lives for them to mention my writing. I think that I can improve in both these areas.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly hope that the avid personal finance readers will find that my writing gives a unique perspective of the issues and worth coming to visit. I just need to make sure I don’t fall into a trap where those are the only people that find my writing of interest.
So now with that rambling out of the way, here are some of the carnivals this week:
The Best of Me Symphony is being held over at The Owner’s Manual. This is one that I just recently discovered and I like the premise a lot. You can only submit posts that you liked that are several months old – your best posts from the past. I’ll make an exception with is carnival and mention my submission was about a $235 dinner I had with some food you’ll hope you’ll never see on your table (if you’re vegetarian, I’d recommend skipping the post) since it was posted so long ago.
The one post that caught my interest was by ROFASIX regarding Navy OLF and Property Rights – of birds? which shows the irony that the birds may have a stronger legal claim than the people that live in the area as the Navy tries to take their land under eminent domain.
The Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Free Money Finance. For those of you who want to get to the good stuff or don’t have any interest in what’s going on among personal finance blogs, you can skip the next few paragraphs while I go into a small rant. I have no idea if others feel this way and I’m sure if they did, they would probably refrain from saying anything because the last thing they would want to do is offend some of the top personal finance writers when a mention from one of them could do their site a lot of good. I’m in a slightly different position in not having to worry about that plus I feel that for the most part I’m on pretty good terms with each of them as individuals. That being said, I have an issue (even if I am the only one) with carnivals and the Money Blog Network.
Now before anyone gets the idea that I’m complaining out of jealousy, let me state when they were forming their network and there was a bit of moaning, I clearly stated that they had every right to form the network and if I had been in a similar position, I would have leveraged it just as they did. Let me also say that I have no problem with the placement of my submission. In fact, I think it was placed higher than it probably should have been. I also have no problem with them promoting each other sites among each other, but I do feel it is wrong when they favor each other when they are the host of carnivals that are supposed to be for everyone. There seems to be an agreement when one of the members of this group holds a carnival, they place each other’s posts at the top regardless of the quality (or whatever other factor they decide to use in posting the entries).
All of the members are obviously quality writers and are regarded as among the top personal finance writers because of that, but quite frankly two of the three top posts were mediocre at best and had obviously been placed there because of group affiliation and not quality. It is my hope that they change their agreement so that they let the carnival be what is is supposed to be (a place to share quality articles as opposed to a place to promote their network) and clearly state how they decided to break up the entries in the future (okay, rant over).
Rant Update – it doesn’t seem that my comments were much appreciated and it appears my punishment was to be immediately removed from the Free Money Finance blog roll. Hmmmm, I don’t think my criticism was out of line (I’m mean, it’s my opinion and having an opinion is part of being a blogger) and the point was valid (is it only me?) If you think I was completely out of line, please let me know. Is my opinion completely off base on this one? (it wouldn’t be the first time) Should it be the right of the person hosting the carnival to favor a few partners with one set of criteria and then the rest with another? Due to the current high tension, if you choose to post it might be wise to do so anonymously…And back to our regularly scheduled programming
If you haven’t seen My Money Blog’s Reverse Carnival of Money Mistakes it is certainly worth a read. These are submissions from a variety of people about their biggest money mistakes.
Boston Gal’s Open Wallet has an inspirational post about Frugal Females Found about several who didn’t make a lot, but still left fortunes when they died.
For those who want a bit heavier (but interesting) reading, Political Calculations has an article What If the Death Tax Were an Income Tax? with some interesting numbers.
I also enjoyed Young and Broke’s post on Emotions Fuel Spending. It is certainly one of the demons that needs to be tamed to get your finances in order.
The Carnival of Debt Reduction is up at Finandom – here are the articles that I liked the best:
I enjoyed Searchlight Crusades post on Looking For Loans In All The Wrong Places with common sense information on the trade-off between a low rate and paying points when getting a mortgage loan (and that the title sounded like a country western song )
You can never go wrong when reading the real life story of how people have managed to overcome their debt and No BS Finance gives us his with My Debt Story
And The Mighty Bargain Hunter has an interesting post that focuses on a Robert Kiyosaki article and his comments about it called Putting Debt to Work for You My personal opinion is that I would not recommend it.
The Bonfire of the Vanities is up at Life~Florida~Whatever – since this is a carnival where writers submit their worst piece of writing for the week, it’s a bit difficult to choose the best (does that mean I choose the worst?) Let’s just say there are some that are truly worthy of being included…
The Festival of Frugality is up at Retire @ 30 – Hmmm, it seems that my submission was off topic, which I guess I can see. I guess I was thinking that finding money that you didn’t know your had was a frugal step to take, but maybe on second thought it is just a smart thing to do (not having anything really to do with being frugal). Either way, Retire @ 30 was kind enough to include it in the festival…
Emerging Class has a fun post about Overpriced Beer – living in Japan where the cheap stuff costs $2 a can, I would even consider the “expensive” cheap beer to be pretty darn cheap.
And keeping with the beer theme Frugal Focus has a post about Haircut Saving and the Male Psyche – when I was in college I used to get my hair cut by a guy who charged a beer on Friday night for the haircut. You just had to be sure to get in during the first 3 beers or you never knew how it would turn out.